Moby-Dick as Corporate Catastrophe: Law, Ethics, and Redemption

37 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2021

See all articles by David G. Yosifon

David G. Yosifon

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Date Written: 2021


Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick serves here as a vehicle through which to interrogate core features of American corporate law and excavate some of the deeper lessons about the human soul that lurk behind the pasteboard mask of the law’s black letter. The inquiry yields an illuminating vantage on the ethical consequences of corporate capital structure, the law of corporate purpose, the meaning of voluntarism, the ethical stakes of corporate fiduciary obligations, and the role of lawyers in preventing or facilitating corporate catastrophe. No prior familiarity with the novel or corporate law is required.

Keywords: corporate law, corporate governance, legal ethics, philosophy, law and literature, Melville, Moby Dick, agency, fiduciary duties

JEL Classification: K22

Suggested Citation

Yosifon, David G., Moby-Dick as Corporate Catastrophe: Law, Ethics, and Redemption (2021). University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 90, No. 2, 2021, Santa Clara Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper , Available at SSRN:

David G. Yosifon (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

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